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Cell Insights Could Bring Better Drugs

An important receptor influences medication response, scientists say

THURSDAY, Oct. 25 (HealthDay News) -- U.S. researchers say they've determined the molecular structure of a cellular receptor that's key to how the body reacts to drug treatment.

The beta 2-adrenergic receptor is one of many G protein-coupled receptors on cells that play an important role in drug response, say scientists at the Scripps Research Institute and the Stanford University School of Medicine, Calif.

Reporting Oct. 25 in two Science Express articles, the team said that identifying the structure of G protein-coupled receptors may help bring new drugs that precisely bind to specific receptors on the surfaces of cells. That would make the drugs more effective and less likely to cause side effects, they said.

Currently, more than half of all drugs work by targeting a particular receptor on cells.

"The majority of hormones and neurotransmitters work through one of these (G protein-coupled) receptors," senior author Dr. Brian Kobilka, professor of molecular and cellular physiology, said in a prepared statement. "All these receptors are structurally related, which means that knowing more about a specific one will advance the whole field."

"These receptors are ideal candidates for therapeutics for many types of diseases," he added.

More information

The U.S. National Institute of General Medical Sciences has more about how drugs work in the body.

-- Robert Preidt

SOURCE: Stanford University, news release, Oct. 25, 2007

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